It is always nice to be able to picture what you are writing about when you write fantasy. It can be hard to keep track of the difference between a dwarf or a gnome, a unicorn or a pegasus, and what the different animal parts on a gryphon actually are anyway. With that in mind I present to you a list of several common fantasy creatures and their basic descriptions. It should be noted that I am leaving out most creatures from classical mythology (such as the gorgons and cyclops etc) and the more humanoid creatures. I am also leaving out fairies/sidhe/the fay/the fair folk/etc. because the amount of creatures in that category is a list in itself.

 

Gryphon (Griffon) – The gryphon is said to have a lion’s body and tail, with the head and wings of an eagle.

Phoenix – A firebird that dies and is reborn from fire. It’s tears have magical healing properties.

Unicorn – A horse-like creature with a single horn on its head. The horn is said to have magical abilities. Traditionally unicorns are white, but in modern times they are more diversely portrayed.

Dragon – A reptilian creature with origins in many different countries. The look of these creatures varies greatly. Some have wings, some don’t. Some breathe fire, some don’t. Some are big, some are small. Their magical abilities and intelligence also differ depending on the story.

Changeling – Changelings are creatures (or sometimes enchanted wood) that are left in place of a living human baby. The real baby is then spirited off to a new fate, while the changeling grows sick and dies. The fate of the human children and changeling varies depending on the source. Sometimes the changeling may continue to live and grow more mischievous as time goes on, sometimes they act just like regular human children with increased strength or other abilities. (Technically, these could be included among the Fay, but as they are not always of Faerie origin I have included them).

Elementals – These creatures vary greatly in appearance from story to story. They generally come from another dimension or plane of existence, and have a natural inborn ability to control the elements.

Gremlin – While the gremlin has a very similar nature to that of imps, they have a more modern origin. Said to be devious natured with a penchant for disabling machines, many an aviation problem has been blamed on them. They are usually said to be rather small.

Kraken – A sea monster of giant proportions. It may have originated from early sightings of the giant squid. It is usually depicted to have squid or octopus like tentacles. Obviously it lives in deep oceans where it has more room to hide.

Manticore – The manticore has the body of a lion, but a human head (sort of like the Egyptian sphinx. Unlike a normal human head it has several rows of sharp teeth, and it is sometimes depicted with bat wings and the tail of a scorpion.

Ogre – Large, humanoid creatures that like to eat humans, especially human children or babies. They are usually depicted with green or grey skin, voracious appetites, and incredible strength, though not much intelligence. As with the other creatures on this list the traits may vary.

Basilisk – Not to be confused with the real life animal, this legendary reptile has the ability to cause death with just a look. It is sad to be hatched by a rooster from the egg of a serpent (or toad) and is vulnerable to the crow of a rooster or its own gaze. It can look like a snake, lizard, or mixture of animals.

Pegasus – This creature is actually from Greek mythology, but you can’t have a unicorn o the list without a pegasus. Although originally a divine being, modern stories usually depict the pegasus as a winged-horse, without the rather in-depth mythological backstory. (The cross between a unicorn and a pegasus has a horn and wings and is called a winged unicorn, alicorn, or pegacorn). Like the unicorn, the pegasus is usually depicted as white, but colors can vary.

Wraith – Generally speaking it is a type of ghost or spirit, but the name has come to be used with many other things as well. They are generally evil, or at least not inclined to be human friendly. In addition to being a ghost=like entity, wraiths have also been portrayed as aliens, undead zombie-like creatures, a creature of the Fay, and several more.

Troll – Trolls are usually depicted as living in caves or mountains, and are generally hostile to humans. Their appearance varies greatly from the grotesque to looking just like a regular human. They are sometimes said to turn to stone with exposure to sunlight.

Wyvern – The wyvern is similar to a dragon, but is usually a smaller size and with only two legs. There is also a water-dwelling variation aptly called the sea-wyvern.

Chimera – Although the origin of this monster is classical mythology (said to be a mix of lion, snake, and goat), I have decided to include it in this list because most modern stories use the term chimera as the name for anything made up of a variety of animals or creatures. It can also mean any implausible or unreal creature. Many a magician (especially the evil ones) tend to create them for fun and profit.

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